Indigenous reject the passage of the toll road through their communities

** The San Cristóbal-Palenque Road would destroy nature

** The land is not for sale and has no price, they say in their defense

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

Laguna Sayul, Chiapas, September 17, 2014

To decidedly oppose the San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road’s passage through their communities, more than 2,000 indigenous of Los Altos from dozens of Tzotzil and Tzeltal communities got together today in La Candelaria, a rural community in San Cristóbal de las Casas municipality, some 15 kilometers away from the city. Surrounded by Sayul Lagoon, a sacred place for everyone for many generations, rendered tribute to Mother Earth and declared that they will impede the passage of the announced super-highway, which would destroy, irretrievably, this delicate enclave of nature.

After hours of ceremonial action and expression of their resistances, the Indigenous issued the Declaration of Laguna de Sayul, “the true word of the original peoples of Los Altos of Chiapas:” “We know that the municipal, state and federal governments are telling lies to the people. They are offering transnational mega-projects that bring death, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. What is the development for the people? We believe that they are only watching out for their own interests. We don’t want development that brings us poverty, destroys our culture and does not respect the rights of our Mother Earth.”

United in the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory, the Indigenous warned: “We will defend the environment, the fabric and the veins of Mother Earth: rivers, lakes, waterholes, mountains, trees, caves and hills. We will defend the life of animals.” (Although they are not fenced, one may ask, in a state governed by “ecologists” that flood the cities with their “protectionist” propaganda).

They called on the Bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Felipe Arizmendi, to support the peoples’ demand against the toll road. The attendees (who point to an interesting ecumenical process) asked the pastors and religious leaders of all the churches with a presence in these territories. They announced that they would impede divisions for partisan reasons with a call: “The land is not for sale and has no price.” To everyone that supports them “and has joined the defense of our lands and territory, we ask them to be on maximum alert about what may happen.”

Representatives from dozens of communities of Zinacantán, Tenejapa, San Juan Chamula, Huixtán, Oxchuc, San Juan Cancuc, Chilón, Salto de Agua and San Cristóbal talked for hours in their languages, and they were translated into Spanish (Castellano). In all cases their municipal presidents “already signed an agreement” that the path of the toll road will cross through these territories.

The meeting was in a monumental island of forests and ferns, surrounded by the intact lake of deep beauty and a dense colony of reeds, aquatic birds, amphibians, crystalline water that is born right here. Now, reader, imagine an Oxxo, a parking lot, a tollbooth, hundreds of double-tow trailers day and night. And the sacred site, the authorities offer, would be able to take advantage of the residents for tourist purposes and to sell their products (sic). The brutality of such a public work would annihilate this notable ecosystem, surprisingly intact, which benefits many ejidos of the different municipios.

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